Penpont Heritage Centre

Annual Reports


Click here for the Trustees' Annual Report for the year ended 31st March 2016


Trustees' Annual Report for the year ended 31st March 2015

The Trustees have pleasure in presenting their report together with the financial statement for the year eneded 31st march 2015.


Charity Name - Joseph Thomson Group

Charity Number - SC029176

Address - Sundial Cottage, Marrburn Road, Penpont, DG3 4BL

Current Trustees -

Sophia Harkness - Chair

Colin McGrath - Vice Chair

Marlene Marshall - Secretary

Maureen Halkett - Treasurer

Gladys Cuttle - Committee Member (Archivist)

Margaret Dempster - Committee Member

Ena Dobie - Committee Member

Muriel Durie - Committee Member

Alison Foggie - Committee Member

Alexander Hall - Committee Member (John Ross memorial)

Helen Jones - Committee Member

Joan Neilson - Committee Member

Janet Brown - resigned 31st May 2014

Gordon Neilson - resigned 31st May 2104

David Hutchison - resigned 31st May 2014

Joanne McKay - resigned 31st May 2014

Craig McKay - resigned 31st May 2014

Niles Helmboldt - resigned 31st May 2014

Ed Forrest - resigned 31st May 2014




The charity is a Scottish Charitable Incorporated organisation (a SCIO). It was registered in its current legal form in August 2014. The charity was previously a steering group known as either the Joseph Thomson Project Steering Group or the Joseph Thomson Local Heritage Centre. it is now known as the Joseph Thomson Group. The assets of the Steering Group were transferred to the SCIO on 28 July 2014. it has a single tier structure and as such the trustees are the members of the charity.

Appointment of Trustees:

The management committee, which normally meets on the 3rd Monday of each month are the charity's trustees. Membership of the management committee is open to anyone living or working in the communities of Penpont, Keir and Tynron who is willing to give service to the Group and who supports its aims.

The trustees are elected at the Annual General Meeting which is held in May. There must be a minimum of five and a maximum fifteen. Interested members of the community can be co-opted during the year before being formally elected at the following AGM.

Objectives and Activities:

Charitable Purposes:

The aim of the group is the advancement of the education of the public in general and of the inhabitants of Penpont, Keir, Tynron and environs, in particular, and in furtherance of this:

a)   To preserve and maintain  Sundial Cottage, the house in Penpont in which Joseph Thomson was born and which now houses the Heritage Centre, as nearly as possible in its original condition.

b)   To foster a wider awareness and understanding of the accomplishments of Joseph Thomson and of the history of the local area.

c)   To work in partnership with other organisations to ensure the success of the Centre.

d)   To provide access to the Centre to the residents of Penpont, Keir, Tynron and the wider public.



The group maintains a store of information and artefacts from the communities which is accessible to all.Exhibitions and other events and programmes are organised throughout the year. Groups, organisations and individuals are all welcome to visit and explore the centre. These visitors are encouraged to become supporters and friends of the group.

Achievements and Performance:

In April 2014 we officially opened the Centre and since then we have been enjoying showing off the results of years of hard work.

The archives are steadily increasing and continue to be made accessible to visitors. The group's archivist continues to compile books of local information and has sent materials as far as America while our store of DVDs has been added to with films of events such as Penpont Gala Day, Tynron Pantomime and the annual flower show.

An excellent model of Kirkpatrick McMillan's first pedal bicycle was made and gifted by a past resident of Penpont who visited the centre.

A past pupil of Penpont School and now curator of the Henry Duncan Museum at Ruthwell came to meet with us and explain what is involved in running it. Although it is finance by the TSB while we depend wholly on volunteers, we were able to benefit from her experience and are planning a visit.

The Centre was also visited by:

Amisfield Heritage Society

The Glencairn History Group

The Glencairn Evergreen Group

Tynron WRI

The Caravan  Club

The Kirkpatrick McMillan Cyclists

Visits were made to:

Thornhill Rotary

The Ladies Tangent

Kirkbean Heritage Society

The centre loaned photos and artefacts to Penpont Primary School when they celebrated the 150th anniversary of the building of the front of the school as well as hosting an exhibition of the school's history.

A number of topical exhibitions were organised such as Penpont, Keir and Tynron during the First World War. On 4th August the Centre was the gathering place for the evening candlelit parade. A large turnout of locals were able to view tjhe exshibition of WW1 memorabilia before proceeding to the War Memorial.

Links with descendants of Joseph Thomson continue to be an important aspect of the group.  In May 2014 John Hastings Thomson, a great grand-nephew of Joseph Thomson travelled to Africa to join a walk retracing a 75 mile section of Thomson's expedition through Maasai Land in 1883. John, with a group of Dutch, British, Japanese and university students from Nairobi walked together to encourage understanduing of Maasai culture as it adapts to the 21st century as well as develop links with the heritage of Joseph Thomson. This walk was organised by Maasai Elder, Ezekiel Katato who devotes his time helping his surrounding communities become self-sufficient.

In September John came to Penpont to give a talk and show the film made of tjhe walk. This event was very well supported with over 70 people attending.

The centre is open weekends from April to September as well as by appointment.  Visitors are impressed with the work done to the house as well as the range of artefacts and information gathered. Many return and also encourage friends and relatives to visit.

Financial Review:

Our main source of funding for this financial year has been through donations with a slight fall (5%) from the previous year. These donations come from individuals and groups visiting the house; from events and exhibitions; from descendants of Joseph Thomson and regular monthly donations from two very kine benefactors.

We have not been able to organised any formal fundraising events in this financial year but hope to be able to plan some in the next financial year.

The bulk of our expenditure goes on the running costs of electricity, insurance, telephone and broadband.

This year the expenditure included the official opening of the centre on 21st April 2014 which we financed totally from our funds.


Reserves Policy:

The group maintains a bank balance between £2,000 and £2,500 which we believe to be adequate for our purposes but will continue to monitor the situation.


Plans for Future Period:

The trustees will continue to open the house to visitors and groups, organise topical exhibitions and gather artefacts, film and record activities and events within the communities. Our big event this coming year is the proposed visit of Ezekiel Katato, the Maasai Elder to the birthplace of Joseph Thomson. We are also investigating the possibility of applying for a grant to assist us in electronically recordiing archives and to develop an inter-acttive computer programme for children based on the life and expeditions of Joseph Thomson.


John Ross Memorial:

Annual Report - April 2014 to March 2015


This has been quite a grustrating year in respect of the John Ross gravestone with progress being dragged out on the restoration of the stone.

The lower part of the stone with plinth was returned to Penpont Churchyard on 8 May 2014 and cemented in. it was some time later that the top part of the stone was brought back and bolted into place and new lettering cut.

The work was finally completed in March 2015.



The was finally paid for £2,010.00) leaving a small balance of £63.71.



Sandy Hall is busy organising the dedication of the restored stone which will take place during the 200th anniversary of the Battle of Waterloo.



Signed: Maureen Halkett


23rd November 2015


Click here for the Annual Report


If you would like to make a donation to the group, please click here to contact us. Thank you.



The Centre will continue to open on Saturdays and Sundays, 2.00pm to 4.00pm until the 1st October 2017.  Click here to contact us.



We are pleased to have the Joseph Thomson Maasai Trust and the Olakira Le Maa Trust join our website. These new pages are: 

JT Maasai Trust

The Walk

The Olakira Le Maa Trust



 If you are looking for any heritage information please do not hesitate to contact us by clicking here.


EVENT!  Please check our Forthcoming Events page to learn about the Joseph Thomson Maasai Trust Hill Run on 2nd September 2018.


Group Bookings

We welcome individuals, groups and school parties. Please contact us to arrange your booking.

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Become a Friend

Would you like to help this Centre continue and flourish?

If YES you could:

1. Become a member.

2. Donate/loan materials to our archives.

3. Help fund running costs by becoming a friend.

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